A Love Story in Pictures

We met on a trip to an amusement park. His sister, Christina, is my best friend, and when she invited me to join her family to visit King’s Island I was of course excited to go. I love roller coasters and days in the sun like that.

I had met Joseph just once before, very briefly at Christina’s house at a New Year’s party, but during that trip I was I was pretty positive he liked me, but, you know, I liked him, so I just assumed I was reading into it and barely fancied the thought.

His sister and his dad left to go look for inner tubes at the wave pool, leaving me and him together for a while. They were gone looking forever, and so him and I float around together. He as very adamant about holding my hand or the handle on the inner tube and keeping me with him, which of course, I didn’t mind. 😀

Hanging out with my best friend about a week later, she took me out for my birthday. I saw on her phone he had text her and was asking about me, hoping she could ask me to come backpacking with them. It was enough I asked her how old he was… and she was surprised, and told me he wanted my number.

 

I got his number, and we were texting every day since that day, and calling every night not soon after.

He lived two and a half hours away for school, so we didn’t get to see each other except when he would come up for some weekends.

On that backpacking trip, we had a great time. It was my first one, and there would be plenty more to come. Hammocking, swimming in the river, catching fish with our bare hands, it was all so new and exciting to me.

He came up again for our first official date. We went to Applebee’s, were both visibly nervous and got the same thing to eat, then we went bowling- and it wasn’t even 7 o’clock. So we decided to go to the park for a walk.

I had worn heels (stupidly, unaware of the fact we would be going on walk-) so I just took them off and went bare feet. We did like three laps around the park though… talking, and my feet were hurting from the sidewalk. So he insisted on carrying me from the park bench to the car.

More talking on the phone late every night. It was something I loved, and of course he did too, it was a great way to relax, wrap up the day, and spend some time together as best we could do over the distance.

I was invited to go camping with his family a few weeks later. Christina and I rode with the parents and would meet him at the camp ground. Another great trip. We had our first kiss outside the camper one night. It was so incredibly awkward it was sweet. It was my first kiss, and I had no idea what to expect. But it was the first of many kisses to come 😀

Whenever Joe would come up, he would sometimes teach me to drive. For a few different reasons, I didn’t get the opportunity to learn very often. He was the best to teach me. His incredible patience with me and his willingness to push me even though I’m a bit scared is something I’m so happy to call him mine for.

The naps on the couch after church on Sundays were the best naps for obvious reasons. My favorite little memories while getting to know him were the moments like this. Just relaxing together and being a reminder to each other that things are okay.

He proposed February 2nd, 2019, at the same park that we had our first date. He tried to recreate the first date as best he could, so I saw it coming a mile away- so we were both sitting in the Applebee’s- all nervous and flustered like the first time. 🙂

He proposed on the bench he carried me from. Then honestly we both just sat in the car looking at the ring in shock for a while.

While we were engaged, maybe two weeks after he proposed, his grandpa had died. So Joseph drove up here to come travel with us to the funeral. But on the way, the weather was really bad, and he hydroplaned and flipped his car twice.

But he came out without a scratch. His car didn’t, but he was okay. Christina called to tell me, and it was the scariest call of my life.

He eventually got home really late. I thank God for keeping him safe, and bringing him home to everyone who loves him. I know God has incredible plans for that man, and I never appreciated the gift of him so much until that day I thought I could have lost him.

Our engagement was eventful to say the least, with insane family drama and a wedding being planned, his accident and so much more you all- but he was my best friend, my voice of reason, my confidence, and my peace through the whole thing. Lots of prayer together over the phone and focusing on a good time together while he was there.

Our wedding was May 17th, 2019.

I’m so happy I get to spend the rest of my life with the best man I ever met. He changed my life and me in such a short time, and it will all never be the same. I am more in love with my life than ever, and i keep falling in love with him more and more every day.

 

Waking in Bannic

An older drawing of this story from August of 2017.

Waking in Bannic

I just had too keep going. I just had to trust I’d be okay. So when I fell to the ground, I didn’t really know what to expect, except that I’d be alright. I had to trust that, I had too. The moment I said I would be okay, I fell down and slipped into darkness.


Relax, Ailith.

I opened my eyes slowly, and watched as my faint surroundings formed from the blurry colors into shapes I could somewhat make out. But to see something besides white was pretty great. I gathered that I was just in a small room, but it was strangely tall. It was all the same wood, a light grey I could barely call brown, but it had the feel of an old cabin lived in many years by a close family.

“Ailith,”

“Ailith…”

I groggily turned my head toward the voice, and met the eyes of a large woman. She was all bundled up in layers of clothes and had big curly hair, adding to her already cuddly atmosphere. Her eyebrows were thick and expressive, well, all her features were thick and expressive. I watched her mouth move, but struggled to understand what she was saying, distracted by her strange, square pupils.

“Oh, Good! How are you holding up?” She came closer to my face and raised her thick eyebrows. I couldn’t quite match her excitement in my groggy state.

I was still trying to form the words to ask where I was.

“Um… Im alright.” It was clear I hadn’t used my voice in a while. “Where…where are we?”

“Bannic, just a small village in these mountains.” She grabbed a piece of wet cloth, “I’m Granity, by the way,” Granity gave me a big wide smile. “Okay, so, You’ve been here for two weeks now. You’ve been coming in and out, but you’ve been doing pretty well.” she was talking quickly while she arranged my surroundings, “You got some special forces on your side, little miss. Now, how are you feeling?”

“Um… warmer, still kind of-” She laid the cloth on my head, the heat of it consumed all my immediate thoughts, I couldn’t help but fully experience it before I finished my sentence. “…kind of chilly.”

“Well, you’re really lucky we found you, you were under almost a foot of snow! Lucky your shield was sticking out of the ground, and it glew! What an interesting little enchantment…”

Granity went on about how her brother unburied me and brought me here, she said they went through my things to find out who I was, because they didn’t know if I would wake up, she said she hoped it was alright that she did that, I nodded.

“So, What were you doing out there?”

“Going East,” I mumbled.

“Well, you couldn’t go around the mountains?” She giggled sweetly, drawing a circle with her finger.

I made no effort to tell her why, I honestly didn’t know either. But whatever the voice says, and here I am.

“Well, wherever you’re going, there should be no reason to stay here any longer.”

Yes, time to go. I began to sit up.

“No No! Not just yet.” She gently pushed me back to the bed.

“Wha..Why…?”

“You need something to protect you from these mountains! Did you really think you were going back out in that cold unprepared?”

I slumped into the bed and huffed under my breath. She was right. I needed to recoup.

“I’ll be right back.” She grabbed my hand gently, it was warm, so nice and so warm…

“Stay here!” She stood up, her body rising much higher than I had imagined her height being, and as she began to make her way out. I then understood why her eyes were so strange and square. As she exited the room, I saw her legs were covered in thick fur, bent at a strange angle, and her giant hooves creaking the wood floor beneath her.

I layed, staring blankly at the door she left through, trying to process with my weak and unclear thoughts what I just saw. I matched her bulky stature and strong appearance to a mountain goat, and concluded this was a Satyr village.

I turned my aching body on my back and surprised myself by crying a bit. I had passed out in the perfect place, just where someone would find me, and would bring me to a place where I could be brought back to health.

 Thank you. I whispered to the voice through gracious tears.

You knew I’d be there for you.

I calmed down after a while and dried my wet tears with the edge of the blanket by my face and fell asleep again.

Waking up later, I had felt much better and decided to try walking again. I had to put too much effort into pulling my feet out from under the covers onto the ice-cold stone floor in order to truly realize that I was still absolutely freezing. I reached for the blanket and pulled it off the bed and over my shoulders. Why was I still so cold?!

I noticed my dress was across the room, folded up nicely by my sword and shield and I… was just wearing my underskirts.

I ignored the thought of how that went down and I slipped into my dress quickly as I could. The sooner I got them on the warmer I’d be. I assumed the Granity washed the dress in hot water, it was still warm on my skin. That feeling of violation was instantly forgiven.

Granity walked in, holding a small bag.

“I looked for something warm for you, but I couldn’t find anything that would fit you, but, I do have some coins,” She handed me the bag. “There is enough in here to buy yourself something extra toasty and to buy enough food to get you out of the mountains, if you just keep going straight east, you will be out of here in two or three days, we are pretty close to the edge of this terrain.”

    “Thank you.” I smiled, pulling my thin little coat over myself.

    “The store is two buildings down, go there and straight there.” She bent down to my height. “People don’t take too kindly to Listeners here, so you need to be careful.”

    She put her massive hands gently over my shoulders, but they were more around my entire core, the fact that she could crush me right now reminded me that while I knew to be careful, it was more important than ever that I don’t get on a Satyr’s bad side.

    ¨I will be, thank you for everything, Granity- and thank your brother for me too, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.¨

    She smiled and wrapped her arms around me, I was buried in her furry scarf.

    ¨Thank you, Ailith, from both of us.¨ She pulled me away and gave me a long look.

¨You’ve changed everything for me and Valor.¨ She looked down. ¨It’s all for the better, but… it´s dangerous here now. Especially for you.¨

I nodded and made my way out her cozy cottage.

    The second my foot hit the world outside, the cold froze me, the snow blinded me, and the wind nearly knocked me off my feet into the side of the door. I gasped at the shock it all, I heard Granity laugh behind me at my surprise. I would have laughed too but I had to keep walking in this blizzard.

 

It was an eternity away, and through the fast think snow coming down I saw this entire village was propped up on tall stilts over the snow, I walked, well, sort of ran- straight across the rope bridges and the boardwalks to get to the store. The door slammed behind me from the wind causing me to jump. I shook the snow off like a dog and took in the store. It had the same coziness the other house had, only this one was full of blankets, clothes, capes, and boots. It was quiet, except for two satyr men in the corner talking quite passionately about something.

A quick redraw of an older storyboard I did of this short story.

“Can I help you. Miss?” I turned to another large Satyr man, he had very dramatic horns, his most prominent feature that stood out to me, minus the legs. He wore a gruff face with a big plastered smile hiding behind a thick beard. He was accompanied by a general kind of ticked-off atmosphere.

    “Yes! I’m looking for something warm.”

    ” Hm…” He sized me down. “I think I can do that for you.”

    “Wonderful!”

    “Our capes for the kids are all over here,” He guided me toward a small pile of folded fur. “This is probably the only section of clothes that will fit you,” He did one huff of a chuckle under his breath, “I suggest a thick one, like this one,” He rummaged through the pile and pulled out a cape that was very furry on the shoulders,with a thick warm drape on it and the inside of it was completely lined with fur. I would bake in it. It was perfect.

“I’ll take it! How much?” I pulled out the money Granity gave me.

He looked off to the side, slightly snarling his nose. “It’s… on the house,”  and he dropped it in my arms, the weight coming down from the hight he dropped it nearly buckled my knees.

“Oh no no no!! I,-”

“I… insist, mam, Granity gave that money to you, I can get it back to her for you, just… take the cape, you’ll need it,”

I sighed with a grateful smile. “Thank you so much, sir. I-”

A sudden loud crash came from behind us, a satyr man flew over a display onto another satyr, they were on the floor and were suddenly brawling aggressively with their horns and fists. My mind went to my sword, but then I imagined trying to fight one of these massive creatures with something I only just recently acquired.

I shuffled as quickly as I could away from the sudden mess that erupted, the fighting satyrs, caught up in their fight, had rolled the battle over toward us, the store clerk jumped out of the way, picking me up with him effortlessly, making me feel even more like a flimsy little doll with my limbs flailing.

“Crazy!” The grey saytr said, “You’re not one of us!”

“Who is it to-” The other brown one dodged a punch, “-to decide that??”

“The town leaders ordered the extinction of any form of evil change!” The grey satyr quoted a law.

They both somehow got up off the ground and were now trying to shove each other down again, their hooves smashed the floor, they were so massive, it was like watching two storms battle for the sky, I backed against the wall, tripping on fallen displays as they rolled the battle around the room.

“Any form of evil change!” The brown satyr said, emphasizing the evil. “This ‘insanity’ you-” He threw a punch, it landed successfully on the grey’s jaw, my jaw dropped just thinking about what the power of that single blow would do to my own jaw. “This insanity you call it, it’s good!”

“Your insanity says we leave our ways! That we leave our home in these mountains!”

They had their fists clasped trying to shove the other down now, their impressive hooves slipped, but caught them as they pushed harder on each other. They stared each other down furiously, talking low now. The deep power of their voices created a hollow feeling in my stomach,  “What this voice says, is that there id so much more out there than what anything here has to offer us!!” Just the mention of the voice gave that brown satyr strength, and he knocked his opponent to the ground, and the brown Satyr smashed his hoof into the grey chest powerfully, knocking the wind out him.

“Here in these mountains we are happy! We are safe! Does your voice tell you that, Valor??” The grey said when the life returned to his lungs.

“No, it says that we need to enter the world-,” the brown one leaned down with his hoof still pinning other satyr, “…And that we will  only stay here hungry, and we will all one day disappear without a trace to the cold.”

Then the grey satyr rolled over the brown, now pinning the brown one down. The grey got in the Brown’s face. I could barely make out his hissing whisper, “This voice had driven you mad, we can’t have this…” He slowly pulled a long blade out from his cape, it appeared the other didn’t notice.

“He’s got a knife!!” I screamed, “He’s got a-” the store clerk yanked my sword from my sheath and threw it off to the side. Before I could respond he swiped his arm in front of me, holding me against him, and held his hand over my mouth, covering my whole face in a brawny grip, my heart beat from fast to faster, knowing I could break at his will.

“Finish him off, Marku!!” The store clerk said to they grey satyr, “Do it! For the people!” The passion in his voice boomed from his chest, vibrating against my back. I could only struggle and let out opposing muffled, weak screams. The store clerk so quickly sickened me, but his iron grip on my little human body and his clasp on my face would never allow for me to escape.  

The brown satyr grabbed a pan from a knocked over shelf, I thought he would try to bang it against the grey satyr’s head, but it probably wouldn’t have done much, taking into account the satyrs had massive horns over their heads, so the brown satyr shoved the handle through the grey’s mouth and up through his head, and he limped, dead, and slid off the victorious brown satyr. My struggling stopped abruptly, my mind processing what I had just witnessed through the store clerks fingers. The brown satyr got up quickly, and looked at the mess he had made, breathing heavy. He sounded like a horse, his breaths were so powerful. He turned toward the store clerk, who was a completely different man now, The brown satyr gave him a stare that burned with anger. I didn’t quite find relief in his vicious stare, but I hoped for the best assuming he was on my side.

Then the brown satyr ran toward our direction.

A more recent quick sketch of some of these characters.

The store clerk lost his grip on me in an attempt to jump out of the way from the brown satyr’s beeline, but the satyr was quick and kicked a fallen display over, tripped the both of us, and also knocked over a small hanging display with heavy capes on it, which fell on me and buried me under them, yet another obstacle to get out of here as quick as I could. I popped my head out of the pile to get a view of the situation when I saw the store clerk was in close proximity of the dead grey satyr’s knife, he took the liberty of grabbing it and pointed it at the brown satyr. The store clerk stood up and stared at him, then me, then back at him. I had no idea what he had in mind but I couldn’t get untangled from the heavy capes fast enough. I was almost out when the clerk swiftly yanked the capes off of me and grabbed me by my wrist. His angry grip caused me to whimper. The clerk was sweating and shaking, but his grip did not loosen.

“Valor, you know who this is?” He had wild eyes and pointed the knife accusatory at me.

The brown satyr, Valor, nodded slowly. He acknowledged that the clerk was on top right now, standing cautiously, thinking the situation though.

“I think she wants you to let her go,” Valor lifted his chin in my direction as I desperately attempting to yank my hand away.

The store clerk looked me and pulled me against him and held the blade to my neck, it shook in his fear. My stomach dropped to a new level of fear.

“She’s the listener,” I heard the clerk swallow nervously, ”She’s the reason all this is happening, and ever since you read her cursed journal you’ve been acting like a madman! Now, I don’t wanna…” He hovered the knife shakingly across my neck to signify cutting my throat, I pulled my head back as far away it as I could, I was breathing heavier than he was now, shoving myself away from the knife with all the little strength I had compared to these large creatures. His voice was still shaky, but his anger was alarmingly quick to replace his fear. “…But if I have too, to make you stop acting like…like a lunatic! …I will, I swear I WILL!” His voice turned from a low mutter to a harsh yell so suddenly I started tearing up.

“Stop!” Valor demanded, “Just let her go… It’s not her fault she came around here.”

“Oh, really? I’ve heard of these listeners before, Valor, they have plenty reason to pop up ‘randomly’ and spread their idea through a town! And the weak minded people like you, they are the ones that fall for it! And then you know what listeners do? They claim the ‘voice’ told them to go kill that whole village or destroy that entire town! They are bad news, Valor, and the second I heard one was town I knew it would bring trouble.” The rage the clerk had for me caused him to hold me so tight he nearly crushed me, and I could sense the cold metal near my neck with a little too much detail, everything in my being begging to escape this horrible mess.

She’s never killed anyone before,” he looked at me, asking, “…right?”

I shook my head violently No.

Another development sketch of this short. It’s my personal favorite, and while it didn’t make the final cut it’s still a great sketch.

“Of course she would lie to you! She wants you to believe her!! To help her go kill all the other people who aren’t listeners!” The clerk nicked my neck a little on accident, and I startled myself with my sharp yelp..

This might be it.

I…I never thought that before. This is how all those other listeners go, people kill them because they are scared, because we are telling them to do things differently, we are telling them they are wrong. They think we kill, they think we all hate them… all the people not like us. I never felt like the dark listeners would lead to my demise, but here I am, Valor and I here are just like any other Listener, but because the dark listeners killed, we are the lunatic monsters to him. The thoughts hollowed me out more than I ever thought was possible.

“Valor, I’m gonna kill her, and you are next, I…we, satyrs, all of us!!!…are going to get rid of every last bit of your insanity!!” He yelled it like an angry wolf barks, the sound so loud it was like static in my ears, hurting my head.

I was screaming now, pulling away and struggling for my life, I couldn’t see through my tears, The clerk went on and on about Listeners… but my screams… My screams weren’t mine. They were more desperate than I ever heard from me.

And then… The clerk stopped. The sudden ending of the cayos cleared my mind. The blade fell. I stood… alive. I was breathing, breathing heavy, but the clerk, he slumped down to the ground beside me. He was… not breathing at all.

My sword was through his neck.

Valor stared down at the dead satyr.


“I’m sorry that happened to you,” Valor pulled the thick coat that he took from the store over my shoulders.

“Dear, I’m so sorry, I thought Huog was safe, I wouldn’t have sent you there if I had known…”

We were at Granity’s house again. It turned out she was Valor’s sister, she was also a new listener.

I couldn’t say anything. I just ran my finger across the fresh scar on my neck. We had cleaned my sword and gotten out of the building, doing our best to take care of the bodies… but Valor had explained that the Satyr people would know it was because of Listeners this happened. And they would be looking for us soon. It wasn’t over.

“It’s going to be really hard getting out of this place. There are walls built all the way around the town, there are just two ways out of this place, and they know we are trying to get out of town, so they will be waiting for us.”

“Then let’s get going,”

“Good Idea.”

“I’m Ailith.” I said, realizing I hadn’t officially introduced myself to him.

“I know, everyone was talking about you.”

 

When the Butterflies Fly Away

On a hike down a little trail, the smell of the Kentucky River was strong, and hot rocks on the shore emitted that slightly metallic aroma. Dannon followed Eve down a thin trail, which was more just a path of parted grass that the girls had to comb through to continue through to their destination.

Dannon followed behind Eve as quick as she could, but the grass brushed her legs far more than grass usually would have on her average day drawing at her desk. She had to continually shoved aside the thought of the bugs that were probably crawling all over her, but Eve was a good six feet away, pounding through the tall grass after the sound of the water. Eve’s urgency to reach the river made it a lot easier for Dannon to feel the exciting sense of adventure, even if she was a little out of her element.

“Have you ever been down here before?” Dannon panted from far back. She could see the shore of the river glowing from where she stood in the shade of the trees.

“Yeah! All the time. It’s beautiful.” Eve‘s voice responded from far away near the edge of the trees.

Dannon was in no disagreement. The entire hike took her breath away, both in beauty and in the physical sense, she was one hundred percent sure she would be sore for the next three days, but all the color and the peaceful sounds of the forest were more than worth it to her.

Eve chuckled watching Dannon shuffle down the steep end of the trail until she finally came to a stumble at the shore. The sun bounced off the rocks in a way that the heat felt thick and solid. She squinted to see anything, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the bright sun after being in the shade of the trees.

As Dannon walked along the shore, she kept tripping over the unstable rocks, trying to see as much nature as she could before she would recluse in the indoors again- and Eve sat on a large rock, overlooking the wide river that ran below the precipice towering above her, it lorded across the water, and from below Eve sat in awe as usual.

The girls were unaware of the importance of this hike. See, they were actually somewhat strangers, Eve and Dannon had only known each other through a friend, but, Eve wanted to go on a hike- so bad, she was willing to invite that short girl she knew from student council last year. And Dannon was just itching to meet someone new, and if it meant stepping out of her comfort zone, she was happy to do it.

Even in the silence during just those twenty-six minutes on the rocks and the soft breeze mixing around the heat, there was something there neither girl knew was there, right under their noses.

Dannon walked back closer to the trees, the rocks were reflecting the bright sun into her eyes, putting her in almost a haze that left her moving and thinking slower, so she was put in a motion that she couldn’t help but be in deep thought. She caught her foot on a rock- and suddenly there was a burst of white butterflies that rose from the ground out of nowhere.

At first, She noticed the quick movements of the shadows they cast. she was thrown off, because She had not been quite as aware of her surroundings as she was the world in her head, but she quickly understood they were just innocent, soft wings, and they all hovered over the rocks for a while. She just stood, smiling, taking in such a wonderful little thing, thinking about how the gentle bugs just chose to swirl around together at her feet, even though she had disturbed the place they were, they all hopped in the air below her, almost as to just let her enjoy the simple blessings they were.

She took the opportunity in her hazed state of mind to contemplate how she related to those common white butterflies, she grasped the magical moment like it was temporary, because it would only last as long as she needed to learn-

Enjoy the moment now, and even more later.

And as the butterflies dispersed as quickly as they came, Dannon let out a small sigh through a crooked smile.

She turned around to get a look at who would be her new best friend, the girl who watched the butterflies from her rock. The second she made eye contact with Eve she sprinted over to her.

“Did you see that? That was so pretty!” Dannon was still beaming at the thought of the new memory.

“It was,” Eve pulled her little backpack up off the ground. “You ready to head home?”

“Yeah- OH!” Dannon was amazing she hadn’t asked such an obvious question yet- “Do you want to spend the night??”

Eve almost always said no to that question.

But there was a pause. “Sure!”

One year, two years, three years, they stuck together. Concert tickets, sleepovers, talks in the car, amusement parks, everything best friends did. Time passed in a blurry mix of fun and emotion.

But one summer, Eve left on a trip.

Texts between Eve and Dannon proved Eve wasn’t gonna be the same when she came back.

Eve’s new friends weren’t as excited about talks in the car, or sleepovers or amusement parks. It was more about the parties and grown up things.

And when Eve came back, things just stopped being the same.

Dannon didn’t think about the argument often, in fact, Eve said not to talk to her again. But things change, people change, it was okay.

For Dannon: New friends, new life, different concerts, new sleepovers, her own car to talk to friends in, that new amusement park. Dannon found it pretty easy to fill a day with productivity and throw some fun in there too.

And after a few months, Dannon realized… she hadn’t journaled in a while.

She knew it was because her next entry would be on Eve, regarding all the good times had, and how things aren’t like that anymore. She knew she would write about the fun times and the concerts and the amusement parks… She knew she would write about how quickly she came and how quickly she left. She knew she would write about how wonderful her memories were with Eve. How a friend like her to just spend time with, to be close to in your high school years, is normal. And yes, high school friends change. Just like anyone else. In the end, they were just normal, common girls. But she was so happy she got to spend that simple, exciting time of her life with someone.

And now, sitting here, on her bed, a dim light and a hot-chocolate candle, She writes:

“And then the butterflies flew off. I almost felt like I didn’t deserve to enjoy them, in a strange way, especially for as long as they chose to fly with me. They all dispersed as quickly as they appeared, but I was still left with that smile. In fact, I noticed I chose to be more happy when they left then when they came, happy I saw that beauty, that I got to experience those common white butterflies.”

 

When the World Went to Sleep.

I took a creative writing class in high school. It was a snow day, and where I lived they had “NTI days,” where even though it as a snow day, the teachers had to give us online assignments or send us home with a packet to do or something. Personally, I hated them with everything in me, they were usually a lot harder and more time consuming than just the regular school work, but my Senior year I had just Work Blocks, English, French, Creative writing and my Independent Art Study, (which I basically used as another work block- I was running a graphic design business- that’s art, right?) so none of my assignments were ever horribly unenjoyable.

In fact, I looked forward to having to write all day. My creative writing assignment this day was a prompt to write a short story centered around a physiological conflict. I went ahead and spent as much time as I wanted on it, trying to get it well-written in under a page.

I still love this original one. This is the story that I went on to turn into Lonely Awake later.


When the World Went to Sleep.

I drew this a while after I had written it, just playing around with the idea bit more.

It was a cold morning, snowing, but she kept the room warm with a space heater throughout the night, and with school obviously canceled, she woke up to her room feeling more like a summer day. She shifted from her side to her back, and looked at the ceiling for a good while, thinking about what summer felt like. Her sixteenth birthday was last summer, she had a small party with all her friends, she loved that day. She thought about how on the more quiet days of summer, she would throw the covers off herself and go have coffee with mom- Oh, right. Coffee. She picked up her half-finished coffee by her bedside from yesterday and went out to the kitchen to make a fresh cup, knowing full well she should only fill it halfway, but she didn’t. Maybe she would finish it today, put ice in it after lunch… some whipped cream to spice things up a bit.

She usually would expect to hear the dog’s nails tap on the floor for it’s daily dollop of whipped cream, but she didn’t feel she needed to poke her head in the living room to know he was still sleeping. These mornings, everyone was still asleep. She talked to herself though, a lot these past few months. It was very quiet, with everyone sleeping all the time… None of them have been awake since she wrote the date this lonely phenomenon started. She had used to keep a tally on the whiteboard on the fridge, but she didn’t like how she was running out of room on it, or the feeling of herself as a prisoner scratching the tally onto the walls of a cell. She knew she wasn’t in a prison, but she didn’t want to leave. The image of the late-shift cashier dropped asleep from when she first went to restock on food still snuck its way around her thoughts, she would talk to herself to change the subject. But even these ice breakers with herself began to have their awkward silences at the end. Though, she was starting to appreciate them, thinking about how talking to people was an art you had to master, and she felt she had had lots of time to practice with herself in the mirror, it was still a relief to see a human being reflect expressions back, to blink and move.

She understood she was going crazy, and expected it from the day she wrote “June 25th, 2017” above the long count of tallies.

It was sick, the spell. Everyone is asleep, as close to death as you come, but it gives the false hope they will all wake up. She thought a lot about sleeping beauty, how the story showed mercy on the princess, making her fall asleep. No, this spell, that creature said, will tear her piece by piece, and she had begged him, begged him to tell her what he had cursed her with, all he said through a long fit of laughter was “Oh, it’s coming! It’s coming! Then, it will hit! But then the spell will be gone- but all too late!”  And now that it has “hit,” she was able to put together what the monster meant by, “-but all too late.”

To be asleep like a princess, not even needing to feel hope- just simply unconscious– unaware of how close she is to death, how miserable the princess would be, had she been awake.

Oh, what she would give to be unconscious right now… to feel that peace the people around her are experiencing… to be like that princess. She would give her very life; and that is what she was about to do. She knew that once she drank this coffee with all her mother’s expired pills, when she made her last breath, the world would wake up again, in that unfortunate irony the creature laughed at, everyone would wake up, but all too late.